Sidney Kosasa


Name Sidney Kosasa
Born December 20 1919
Died November 17 2006
Birth Location Honolulu
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Waikiki convenience store magnate who was incarcerated in an American concentration camp during World War II. Sidney Kosasa's (1919–2006) ubiquitous ABC Stores remain fixtures of Waikiki's geography.

Sidney Kosasa was the second son of Issei Morita Kosasa and Mitsue Ito Kosasa, who had immigrated from Okayama Prefecture. The family operated M. Kosasa Grocery and Butcher in Palolo Valley, east of downtown Honolulu. Sidney attended local public schools and worked at the store, graduating from McKinley High School in 1938. He went on to college in California, first at Sacramento Junior College, then at the University of California. But just prior to his scheduled 1942 graduation, West Coast Japanese Americans were expelled from the coast, with Kosasa eventually being removed to the Walerga Assembly Center, then to Tule Lake. He was allowed to graduate, receiving his UC degree pharmacy degree while in Tule Lake. While in Tule Lake, he married Sacramento native Minnie Ryugo, whom he had met while attending junior college.

He left Tule Lake in 1943, getting a job as a pharmacist at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. A year later, the couple decided to move back to Hawai'i, where Kosasa worked at a Benson-Smith & Co., Ltd. store, eventually becoming its manager. He soon bought Mid-Pacific Drug Co. in Hickam Village, which served civilian workers at Hickam Field. In 1949, he opened Kaimuki Pharmacy, which, over the next decade, grew into a chain of eight stores. In 1965, he opened his first ABC Store, a convenience store catering to tourists. Catching the wave of the tourism boom, the business grew to seven stores by 1975, 21 by 1980 and 27 by 1985, including two in Maui, generating $45 million in sales. In 2001, there were 60 stores, 35 of them in Waikiki. Kosasa was also active in business associations and on corporate and non-profit boards. His business model included a profit sharing plan for employees. Among his charitable contributions was the leadership gift to establish the Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai'i. The professorship is currently held by Eric K. Yamamoto.

Kosasa passed away on November 17, 2006. His son Paul is the current CEO of ABC, which now has stores in Guam, Saipan, and Las Vegas.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho


For More Information

"Korematsu Professorship." William S. Richardson School of Law website, https://www.law.hawaii.edu/korematsu-professorship.

Kosasa, Sidney. An Oral History of Sidney Kosasa. Center for Oral History, Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2004. [Based on interviews conducted between August and October 2001 by Warren Nishimoto and Michi Kodama-Nishimoto.]

Miyasaki Gail. "Sidney Kosasa." The Hawai'i Herald, October 17, 2008, p. B-8.

Wu, Nina. "ABC Stores Founder Saw Future in Waikiki." Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Nov. 22, 2006, http://archives.starbulletin.com/2006/11/22/news/story06.html.